It is a C level title that is becoming more and more popular. The Chief Customer Officer now has an important seat at the boardroom table. The CCO’s job? To ensure that everything the company does on the front line that impacts the customer, and the processes behind the scenes that support the front line customer experience, is focused on the customer. This includes the obvious areas of customer service and customer experience, as well as a few not-so-obvious areas.
So who reports to the CCO? Or, who does the CCO report to? That is an interesting question because depending on the company that has decided to appoint the CCO, there are varied responsibilities. Here’s my take. And, it really isn’t that tough of an answer.
In my mind, there three important areas for the CCO to focus on: culture, systems and customer advocacy.
When it comes to the culture, either the company is completely customer focused or it’s not. That begins with culture. It’s how employees are hired and trained, and how the vision or mission is created or changed to reflect a customer-focused philosophy. Customer service and experience must be woven through the fabric of the entire company.
And then there are the systems that the company has in place. The CCO’s job is to help ensure that the systems are customer focused and that everyone – and every department – is working together. Silos must be eliminated, with the goal of creating a unified company that is focused on the customer. The CCO must constantly be asking questions that challenge the company’s systems and processes to be customer-focused. In its simplest form the question is:
Is this a customer-focused decision?
There are many variations of this basic question. The idea is to challenge every aspect of the company to keep the customer in mind. Policies, new products, new accounting programs, new software programs; these are just a few of the areas that should come before the CCO to consider if they meet the requirement of being customer-focused.
The third responsibility is customer advocacy. CCO is the manager of the “Voice of the Customer,” which includes direct customer feedback and data analysis. The CCO must understand both the business and the customer well enough to know what data is important and how to interpret the data.
The Chief Customer Officer has his or her hand in all aspects of the company, if nothing else than to ask the right questions and keep the company focused. And, at the same time he or she is the advocate for the customer. There must be a balance between how a company operates and what a customer expects. An effective CCO creates a sense of harmony between the company and the customer.